Authorities look for answers after a massive fire devastated the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Firefighters have salvaged the Notre Dame Cathedral’s main structure.
What’s next? Resurrection.
French President Emmanuel Macron promised late Monday to rebuild the monumental 12th-century cathedral, one of the most recognizable buildings in Paris, while religious leaders across the world shared stories of the resilience of places of worship.
All was not lost at Notre Dame. The religious statues that sat atop the cathedral were recently removed as part of a $6.8 million renovation of the towering spire that fell to the ground in Monday’s blaze.
“But no matter the destruction, the spirit of what it means to be a cathedral can and does survive such catastrophes,” Becky Clark, The Church of England’s director of cathedrals and church buildings, said in a statement.
Among English churches that have risen from the ashes are the spire at Lincoln, which collapsed in the 1500s; St. Paul’s, which burned in the Great Fire of London; and the Coventry, which was bombed in World War II.
“All have been rebuilt, sometimes taking on new forms, to stand as reminders of eternity and resurrection which are the foundation of the Christian faith,” Clark said.
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Paris Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet announced late Monday that operations had changed from an emergency response to monitoring and mop-up. Macron said a national fundraiser to restore the capital’s iconic landmark will begin Tuesday, and he called on the world’s “greatest talents” to help.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama echoed Macron on Twitter.
“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” Obama said. “It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”
Macron credited firefighters’ “courage” and “great professionalism” in saving Notre Dame’s facade and two landmark towers. Gallet said two-thirds of the roofing was ravaged, however.
“The worst has been avoided although the battle is not yet totally won,” Macron said.
The copper statues that usually set atop the cathedral were removed just last week. Workers sent the 3-meter-tall statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists to southwestern France as part of the planned restoration project.
Salvage efforts to recover precious artifacts were underway Monday. The “treasure” of the cathedral has not been touched so far, Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told the Le Figaro newspaper.
“We must see if the vault, which protects the cathedral, will be touched,” Finot said. “The sacred objects are preserved in the sacristy; normally there is no risk of things being burned.”
Monday’s blaze is “potentially linked” to renovation work and preliminary accounts said it appeared to be accidental, officials said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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